Not-thinking is hard

I spend a lot of time online, some of it poking around for editing work and the rest distracting myself from my life, which is mostly my thoughts. I know that presence—being here now—allows me to experience reality without thought. Practically, though, I’m nearly always thinking, usually about stuff that’s none of my business.

My thoughts vary only slightly, and they’re often negative, or at best no help at all. Like a lot of us apparently, I put most of my mental and psychic energy on stuff I don’t like. As much as I’ve heard in various ways that we get what we think about, focusing on what I want eludes me. I believe that we get what we focus upon because it explains a lot and sounds right. I can’t prove a damn thing, but it makes sense to me, so I keep trying.

Every morning I sit in my driveway looking out at the garden, and I think slightly less for an hour or so. Sometimes I focus on my breath and sometimes I think about the bills or a son or a friend or a vacation or the bills. Sometimes I just notice a thought and release it to the wild. It usually finds its way back to me, sometimes in a minute or two, and I note-and-release again. Often a down thought leads me to another and another, none of them related to reality, even the little I’m aware of.

As I was working on this essay, I saw my son turn on a hose in the back yard. To my horror, within seconds he was watering a hanging spider plant. I was alarmed because all our hoses are black, and the water inside gets almighty hot lying in the Chico sun. To keep him from poaching the poor thing’s roots, my impulse was quickly to open the window and tell him. By the time I realized what he was doing, it was about a half-gallon too late. He’d be done by the time I got the window open.

So I did nothing. I stood there and let that innocent plant’s innocent roots suffer a scalding trauma, but first I had to think all that stuff about what I thought was a safe temperature for a spider plant’s roots based on my supposition that there is a temperature past which a spider plant’s roots would cease to function, and that the water in that hose has been there maybe five hours and in the sun for the last four. That’s one thought. So I watch a lot of YouTube.